State issues advisory for Kuntry Gardens products over human waste contamination concerns

Posted at 11:54 AM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 18:27:15-04

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development issued an advisory to consumers over concerns that Kuntry Gardens products and produce distributed from Homer, MI, may be contaminated with “raw, untreated human waste.”

MDARD says in a press release that during a routine inspection, they discovered that Kuntry Gardens was using the human waste on fields where the produce was being grown for sale. We're told the human waste was dumped directly on the farm through the use of two bucket outhouses on the farm.

Kathy Sample, owner of Argus Farm Stop in Ann Arbor, said she knows the farmer at Kuntry Gardens and has spoken to him about the situation.

"He's appropriately affected by this, believe me," said Sample, who added that the farmer has indicated that raw human waste was not being dumped onto the fields where he grows food for the public.

The farmer, who is Amish, reportedly said the waste from his family's outhouses was dumped into a separate field but that the equipment used to till that soil was also used in the field where food is grown to be sold.

"It wasn't the practice of taking that product and using it as fertilizer for the fields," Sample said. "It was machinery cross-contaminating."

7 Action News has been unable to reach the farmer of Kuntry Gardens for comment.

"He's got to figure out what to do with his livelihood for the rest of the year. And then, hopefully, the consumer will understand that this was an isolated incident, that it's been corrected, and I'm confident that he'll correct it."

According to MDARD, using raw, untreated human waste for growing human food is a violation of state and federal laws. The state notes that human waste and other body fluids can spread infectious diseases.

All of the product is reportedly labeled under the name Kuntry Gardens.

The state says no illnesses have been reported to date, but anyone with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), fever, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, weakness, headache, or other symptoms of foodborne illness is encouraged to seek medical advice.

The following produce items sold under the name Kuntry Gardens are known to be implicated, but we're told all Kuntry Gardens produce should be treated as potentially contaminated:

  • Tomatoes (cherry, roma, heirloom, sun gold, vine ripe)
  • Zucchini (yellow and green)
  • Cucumbers
  • Butternut squash
  • Poblano peppers
  • Red carmen peppers
  • Pumpkins

MDARD reports the products have been sold at the following Michigan locations:

• Kuntry Gardens, 29910 R Dr South, Homer

• Busch’s Fresh Food Market stores located in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Canton, Clinton, Dexter, Farmington Hills, Livonia, Novi, Pinckney, Plymouth-Northville, Rochester Hills, Saline, South Lyon, Tecumseh, and West Bloomfield

• Simply Fresh Market, 7300 Grand River Rd, Brighton

• White Lotus, 7217 W Liberty Rd, Ann Arbor

• Argus Farm Stop, 325 W Liberty Street, Ann Arbor

• Agricole Farm Stop, 118 N Main Street, Chelsea

• Pure Pastures, 1192 Ann Arbor Rd, Plymouth

• Ypsi Coop, 312 North River Street, Ypsilanti

• Greener Pastures Market, 21202 Pontiac Trail, South Lyon

• Holiday Market, 520 S Lilley Rd, Canton

• Cherry Capitol, Traverse City

Consumers who have purchased the product are encouraged to contact the farm or facility where it was bought for instruction on disposal and a refund.

If you have additional questions, you can call MDARD at 800-292-3939 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

MDARD reports that they are no working with the farm to oversee corrective action.